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PNG Launches Innovative Resource Book, Fulfilling Long-Awaited Vision Of Environmental Education, Says University Prof

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (03 July 2023) - Papua New Guinea's (PNG) Department of Education launched an innovative resource booklet with the aim of igniting a profound passion for environmental stewardship among young students. This invaluable tool equips teachers with the necessary resources to empower primary school children, enabling them to become dedicated custodians of the remarkable biodiversity found within the pristine Kikori River Basin.

The introduction of the supplementary teacher's guidebook, titled "Conservation of the Kikori River Basin: A Teacher’s Resource Book for Primary Schools,” takes a significant stride in nurturing a new generation of environmentally conscious leaders dedicated to safeguarding this invaluable ecological gem. Equipping teachers with a comprehensive curriculum, engaging activities, localised content, and collaborative opportunities, the guidebook enables the delivery of impactful environmental education.

Speaking at the launch, Professor Chalapan Kaluwin, from School of Natural and Physical Sciences at the University of Papua New Guinea acknowledged the support of partners and their commitment towards providing in-depth opportunities for PNG teachers and students.

"Building the country's capacity in terms of wise and sustainable management of its rich biodiversity is a matter of concern”, said Prof Kaluwin.

"Education awareness materials, such as the Teacher's Resource Book, are a step forward in raising awareness, and it is a bonus to learn that these books will be used at the primary school level. We should also consider replicating and producing similar materials to meet the needs of tertiary institutions.”

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He added, "This is the kind of work that we have been longing to see for some time."

Designed as a teacher’s guide, this resource caters to primary school students from Grade 3 to Grade 8 in the five provinces surrounding the Kikori River Basin. These provinces—Gulf, Enga, Southern Highlands, Western, and Hela—encompass approximately 2.3 million hectares of unique ecosystems and vegetation. The Kikori basin, acknowledged by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is home to one of the largest undisturbed forest tracts in the Southern Hemisphere, featuring diverse forest types, remarkable bird species, and rich biodiversity threatened by logging and unsustainable practices like overfishing.

Echoing similar statements, Dr Lindsay Kutan from the PNG National Research Institute said: "We are proud to witness the conceptualization of PNG's rich biodiversity into a dedicated learning material, enabling our children to learn and understand the true essence of our remarkable country.”

Recognising the value of this educational resource, the Office of the Governor of the National Capital District (NCD) has agreed to facilitate the process of ensuring that more teachers can access this.

The Chief Executive Officer for the Governor of the NCD, Dr Newton Albert said, “The Governor is keen to build a strong partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to print more of these books and have them distributed in NCD as the capital district of our Country.”

He added, “The NCD is PNG’s capital and hosts children from the other 21 provinces, so distributing the resource books to all schools within the NCD is an excellent approach that will ensure the whole nation benefits.”

Through immersive experiences like nature walks, field trips, and hands-on projects, students cultivate a profound appreciation for the natural world, fostering a strong sense of responsibility for its preservation. This transformative initiative shapes a future where environmental stewardship is ingrained, as students actively apply their skills and knowledge to real-life scenarios, take environmental action, voice their concerns, and participate in local restoration efforts.

The WWF-Pacific Office in PNG’s Forest Programme Manager, Kenn Modiai, thanked the Department of Education for the partnership adding that the guide equips students with an early insight into conservation.
“Incorporating theory and field visits at an early age builds problem solving skills to some conservation issues,” said Modiai.

He added, “In the context of PNG’s unique biodiversity, instilling a sense of pride and ownership also connects students to their cultural and ecological heritage. By understanding and appreciating the endemic species and pristine ecosystems found in their own country, students can develop a stronger sense of identity and cultural pride, while simultaneously valuing the importance of preserving these treasures for future generations.”

Prior to the launch, 150 copies of the Teachers Resource Book Nipa-Kutubu District Administration at Pimaga station, Southern Highlands province. WWF also delivered copies to the Research Conservation Foundation (RCF), The University of Goroka (UOG) and Eastern Highlands Provincial Education Director in Eastern Highlands Province.

The launch programme was held on Friday 30 June 2023 at the Crowne Hotel in Port Moresby.

Support towards the compilation and publication of the teachers’ guide was made possible through the partnership between the PNG Department of Education, the Research and Conservation Foundation of PNG (RCF), the Silent Foundation and WWF.

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